Amongst an endless stream of cooking tips, makeup reviews, and exercise videos, TikTok is rife with misinformation about dental care. From how to whiten your teeth with common pantry staples to seemingly cheaper alternatives, TikTok users could suffer dangerous consequences if they attempt some of the DIY videos.
Owned by the Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, the addictively entertaining app brings together the most scrollable qualities of social media: unlimited content, a highly personalized feed, and thousands of filters. Over the past three years, the app’s rise in popularity has been historic, reaching over two billion downloads and beating older platforms such as Twitter and Snapchat in terms of total active users.
Given its popularity and powerful trend-setting culture, it’s important to address some of the videos the dental industry has seen to reduce damaging vulnerable smiles. Life Point Dental dentist, Dr. Minsoo Yeo, debunks some user-favorite myths about dental care:
1. Shaving Teeth with a Nail File
“Many patients attempt to achieve a straighter smile by using nail files,” explains Dr. Yeo. “Although the edges of one's teeth may be more aligned, what also happens is irreversible damage to the outermost layer of the tooth, your enamel. This is a definite no-no!” Dr. Yeo suggests those interested in a straighter smile should visit a dentist and ask about minimal odontoplasty, which can be safely performed without encroaching on the dentin. Veneers are also an option.
2. Snap-On Smiles
“Snap-on smiles are promoted as a cheaper alternative to veneers, but they are not recommended,” say Dr. Yeo. “It’s allowable to be used temporarily for a change in appearance, but oftentimes patients wear these for extended times and disregard underlying problems like cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis.” Additionally, snap-on smiles can harbor food and bacteria, which exacerbate the decay process. When extensive decay is left unmonitored, it can lead to infection or tooth loss.
Mostly used to “correct” crowded teeth, Dr. Yeo suggests that they may only cause more problems for users. “Because snap-on smiles usually lineup with the most protruding tooth, they create a bulky, unnatural smile – sometimes called ‘chiclet’ teeth.” Dr. Yeo add, “Users often develop lisps. If you are looking to correct your smile, don’t skimp on proper dental treatments and look into veneers.”
3. Charcoal Toothpaste to Whiten Teeth
“Charcoal toothpastes may temporarily whiten your teeth,” admits Dr. Yeo, “but the product can be very abrasive.” Over time, you may even notice your teeth start to "yellow," as more of the second layer of tooth, dentin, begins to show. Dr. Yeo recommends scheduling a dental cleaning with a dental hygienist, during which ultrasonic scalers can be used. Patients can also try over-the-counter Crest Whitening Strips with hydrogen peroxide or in-office whitening treatments.
4. Rubber Bands to Close Tooth Gaps
Dr. Yeo’s advice is simple: “Just don't do it.”
Orthodontists receive years of training to determine which patients are acceptable candidates for orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics involves a steady, controlled force over a sustained period of time to achieve its results. “The movement of one tooth affects another,” explains Dr. Yeo. “This is typically why braces will be placed on both top and bottom arches, to avoid bite discrepancies.” If you are trying to fix a gap between your upper front teeth with rubber bands, you are risking two more spaces behind the front teeth in addition to potentially creating a harmful change in your bite. Unideal bites can result in TMJ issues, tooth fractures, and root resorption.
While TikTok is still wildly popular and does offer many inspiring and creative videos, Dr. Yeo reminds users that the app can be a medium of misinformation if not vetted carefully. “It’s crucial to follow the advice of your dentist,” explains Dr. Yeo, “instead of following misleading ‘hacks.’ Thankfully, dental offices love to educate their patients so they are armed with the best information to protect their smile. If you have a question, please ask!”
Life Point Dental serves Jefferson, Athens, and the surrounding communities with compassionate, skilled service. Request an appointment today.